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Morgan County Poor Farm

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Morgan County, Missourimap
Surname/tag: MISSOURI
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In 1877, Morgan County purchased the G. J. Harvey farm three miles east of Versailles. Prior to this the property had been rented by the county. This property was used to house the county's indigent, aged, and destitute, including mentally ill, mentally and physically handicapped persons. It was once even used to house the wife and children of a man being tried for murder.

The farm location can be seen on this 1880 Map of Morgan County, about 3 miles NE of Versailles. It is in the E 1/2 of the NE 1/4 of Section 33 and the SE 1/4 of the SE 1/4 of Section 28 just above Section 33, with the 40 acres just to the SW also apparently included, for a total of about 160 acres. <https://www.loc.gov/resource/g4163m.la000403/?r=0.209,0.345,0.227,0.098,0>

Some people died while living at the poor farm and were buried at a cemetery located on the property.

The county budgeted funds for the poor farm (also called the county farm) and used a bidding process to hire a private contractor or superintendent to operate the farm.

On occasion, churches and other charitable groups such as the W.C.T.U. (Women's Christian Temperance Union) would visit the poor farm in an effort to alleviate their suffering.

In June of 1906, the local W.C.T.U. group that visited the farm found the conditions so bad that they organized an effort to improve the situation. Later that month a petition signed by 150 people was presented to the County.

As a result, some insane inmates were transferred from the County Farm to the State Asylum. These included Jake Hildebrand, John Monsees, Wes Woody, and Norman Alfter.

Conditions were still very bad as of 1913 as noted in a blistering editorial in a local paper.

A new, improved facility was built around 1914 and the previous farm sold.

The new facility continued to operate for almost 50 years.



(incomplete list)
Richard Silvey
Columbus C. Marriott
G. W. Miller

Research Notes

I became interested in this topic after reading an interview with my great grandfather that stated he had once visited a farm run by one of his grandfather's brothers. He stated that the farm had a cave on it where they kept "crazy people". One of his grandfather's brothers was C. C. Marriott, who was at one time the Superintendent of the Morgan County Poor Farm. Did this farm actually have a cave on it where they housed the mentally ill? Morgan County has a number of caves, so it is possible.



Here is a well researched article on the Greene County Poor Farm. May give a flavor of what things may have been like in Morgan County, though likely much larger than that of Morgan County.


Also some information about the Miller County Poor Farm.


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